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Workers’ compensation insurance is required in Georgia for most businesses with three or more employees.
However, even if you don’t have three employees, Georgia workers’ comp coverage still provides important financial protection for you, your employees and your business.
If you or an employee suffers from a workplace injury, workers’ comp can help pay for:
If you don’t have coverage, the out-of-pocket expenses for a work-related injury could be significantly more than the cost of workers’ comp in Georgia.
My many clients might require you to have a certificate of insurance for workers’ comp and other coverage before they’ll work with you. Having an active policy can give you an advantage over your competition.
Different agencies might also ask for a COI before they issue you a professional license. For example, to receive a general contractor license in Georgia you must provide proof of insurance for workers’ comp and general liability.
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Whether you have employees or not, almost every type of business can benefit from the financial protection provided by workers’ compensation insurance.
It’s a mandatory requirement for some professional licenses and contracts, but it’s also important to remember that accidents and injuries can happen anywhere — even at desk jobs.
For example, an assistant hired for basic office work could develop carpal tunnel or a related ailment. If you don’t have workers’ comp coverage, you could be held responsible for treatment expenses and lost wages until your employee has recovered.
Although businesses like consultants and professional services might have a lower risk of workplace injuries, it is still a good idea to consider workers’ comp coverage to avoid unexpected costs and disruptions to your business plan.
Sole proprietors are exempt from the Georgia workers’ compensation law. But many sole proprietors still opt for coverage, especially if they are construction business owners.
If your business is structured as a corporation, up to five officers can be excluded from a workers’ comp policy, but they won’t be eligible to receive benefits if an injury occurs. For example, if you are the CEO you could exempt yourself from coverage.
However, you would still be counted as an employee for the state requirement to have workers’ comp for three or more workers at your business.
Workers’ comp can help save your business from being responsible for expenses related to work-related injuries. Typically, workers’ compensation includes coverage up to the policy limit for:
For example, you own a small landscaping business with a few employees. While on a job, a falling tree limb causes a deep gash in an employee’s arm. He will need to go to the emergency room and get stitches. Workers’ compensation would help pay for emergency treatment expenses and lost wages while he is recovering.
In the event of a work-related death, workers’ comp can also cover burial and survivor benefit costs up to the coverage limits.
Workers’ compensation does not cover incidents that are not job-related or situations when the injured person violates company policies, commits misconduct or uses drugs or alcohol.
Income benefits with workers’ compensation in Georgia will kick in if an employee cannot work for more than seven days. They include one of three options with a maximum annual amount determined by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation:
Temporary disability is available when a work-related injury will keep the injured person from being able to work for up to 400 weeks. They can receive up to two-thirds of their average weekly wage up to $675 per week.
Reduced-work disability is provided if an injured employee is only able to return to work a lower paying job. They can then get reduced weekly benefits up to $450 per week, based on earnings.
Permanent disability benefits are provided if a doctor assesses that a person will never fully recover from the injury. They can get weekly benefits based on the type and extent of the injury, determined by the American Medical Association.
If an employee dies after an accident at work, workers’ compensation provides two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage to dependents, up to $675 per week and capped at $270,000.
Dependents are defined as:
Workers’ comp death benefits also cover burial expenses up to $7,500.
Once the state board reviews and approves a workers’ comp claim, there are two options for settlements: liability and non-liability.
Liability settlements: When an insurance company agrees to resolve the claim and there are typically no disputes about the accident and your injury.
Non-liability settlements: With a non-liability settlement, the claim is resolved but there are outstanding questions or a dispute about benefit eligibility.
Settlements in Georgia can either be a lump-sum single payment or a structured settlement paid out monthly or annually for a specific period of time.
Next insurance strives to resolve every claim quickly. Our team typically makes a claim decision in 48 hours.
Failing to have workers’ comp when it is required under Georgia law can result in liability lawsuits, civil penalties up to $1,000 per violation or even criminal penalties of fines up to $10,000 and imprisonment.
If you are not required to provide workers’ comp based on Georgia workers’ compensation laws, employees can still file a lawsuit after a workplace injury and ask you to pay for medical expenses and lost wages.
For example, if one of your employees is installing a heavy fence post and injures their back, your workers’ compensation insurance could provide coverage. If you don’t have an active policy, your employee could take legal action and ask you to pay for medical bills, potentially resulting in significant long-term financial losses.
Because the risk of a job-related injury is greater for certain professions, workers’ compensation costs vary across industries. Factors that influence price include:
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Workers’ compensation insurance provides many important protections, but you’ll also need to include additional coverage with your business insurance package to make sure you are protected from all the risks you face every day.
Most Georgia businesses also consider these options:
General liability insurance protects your business from common mistakes or accidents that can occur in your industry, such as customer injury or damages to someone’s property.
Professional liability insurance provides financial protection against claims of professional mistakes and negligence.
In Georgia, all business-owned vehicles must be covered by commercial auto insurance. If you’re driving and using your personal vehicle for work-related purposes, commercial auto insurance also protects your business from unexpected expenses if you are involved in an accident.